Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Thoracic cystic schwannoma: case report and review of literature



Schwannomas are the second most common type of intra-dural lesions involving the thoracic spine. They are frequently seen as solid and heterogeneous lesions. Totally cystic thoracic schwannomas represent a rare pathological schwannoma variant, with only four cases reported in the English literature to our knowledge.

Case presentation

We report an 80-year-old male who presented with upper back pain for 3 months. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a cystic lesion at the level of T6–T7 with peripheral contrast enhancement. The lesion was removed in total surgically with complete resolution of the patient’s symptoms.


The diagnosis of cystic schwannomas is often delayed due to the paucity of symptoms and the lack of meticulous investigation. The presence of rim enhancement on contrast-enhanced MRI may be the only clue for the diagnosis. It is important to consider cystic schwannomas in the differential diagnosis of cystic spinal lesions since the best surgical outcome is strongly related to earlier diagnosis and total resection of the lesion.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Radiological evaluation.
Fig. 2: Histopathological evaluation.
Fig. 3: Special pathology stains.


  1. 1.

    Borges G, Bonilha L, Proa JrM, Fernandes YB, Ramina R, Zanardi V, et al. Imaging features and treatment of an intradural lumbar cystic schwannomaI. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2005;63:681–4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Santhosh K, Kesavadas C, Thomas B, Gupta AK, Kapilamoorthy TR, Radhakrishnan V. Fluid-fluid levels in cystic lumbosacral schwannomas: a report of three cases. Singap Med J. 2009;50:16–21.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Jaiswal A, Shetty AP, Rajasekaran S. Giant cystic intradural schwannoma in the lumbosacral region: a case report. J Orthop Surg. 2008;16:102–6.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Kasliwal MK, Kale SS, Sharma BS, Suri V. Totally cystic intradural extramedullary schwannoma. Turkish Neurosurg 2008;18:404–6.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Parmar H, Patkar D, Gadani S, Shah J. Cystic lumbar nerve sheath tumours: MRI features in five patients. Australas Radiol. 2001;45:123–7.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Karatas A, IS M, Yildirim U, Akyuz F, Gezen F. Thoracic intradural cyst schwannoma: a case report. Turkish Neurosurg. 2007;17:193–6.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Vikram M, Pande A, Vasudevan MC, Ravi R. Cervical solitary long segment cystic Schwannoma. Br J Neurosurg. 2010;24:208–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Conti P, Pansini G, Mouchaty H, Capuano C, Conti R. Spinal neurinomas: retrospective analysis and long-term outcome of 179 consecutively operated cases and review of the literature. Surg Neurol. 2004;61:35–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Kumar S, Gupta R, Handa A, Sinha R. Totally cystic intradural schwannoma in thoracic region. Asian J Neurosurg. 2017;12:131–3.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Savardekar A, Singla N, Mohindra S, Ahuja CK, Gupta SK. Cystic spinal schwannomas: a short series of six cases. Can we predict them preoperatively? Surg Neurol Int. 2014;5:S349–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Netra R, Hui MS, Gang MZ, Ming Z. Spinal cystic schwannoma: an MRI evaluation. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2014;24:145–7.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Hsieh C, Tsai W, Liu M. Intradural lumbar cystic schwannoma. Neuroscience (Riyadh). 2011;16:366–8.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Himmiche M, Benzagmout M, Alami B, Benabdellah IS, Chakour K, Chaoui ME. Giant cystic schwannoma of the cauda equina. Ann Afr Med. 2019;18:180–3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Akhaddar A, Ajja A, Albouzidi A, Elmostarchi B, Boucetta M. A cystic schwannoma of the cauda equina mimicking hemangioblastoma. Neurochirurgie. 2008;54:101–3.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Attiah MA, Syre PP, Pierce J, Belyaeva E, Welch WC. Giant cystic sacral schwannoma mimicking tarlov cyst: a case report. Eur Spine J 2016;25:84–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Sakamoto M, Harayama K, Furufu T. A case of cystic spinal schwannoma presented unusual clinical findings. Orthopedics 1985;3:1185–9.

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Enzinger FM. Schwannomas. In: Harshberger, SE, editor. Soft tissue tumors. St Louis:Mosby; 1983. p. 585–97.

  18. 18.

    Albert AF, Kirkman MA, Plessis D, Sacho R, Cowie R, Tzerakis NG. Giant solitary cystic schwannoma of the cervical spine: a case report. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2012;114:396–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Desheng WU, Zhaoyu BA, Huang Y, Zhao W, Shen B, Kan H. Totally cystic schwannoma of the lumbar spine. Orthopedics 2013;5:679–82. (36)

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Suzuki H, Yamaguchi Y, Kimura H, Shiba M, Baba M, Hiroshima K. Malignant mediastinal schwannoma associated with von Recklinghausen’s disease – a resected case. Nippon Kyobu Geke Gakkai Zaoshi. 1996;44:864–8.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Vilanova JC, Dolz JL, Maestro de Leon JL. MR imaging of a malignant schwannoma and an osteoblastoma with fluid-fluid levels. Report of two new cases. Eur Radio. 1998;8:1359–62.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. M. Samman.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Samman, A.M., Bardeesi, A.M. & Alzahrani, M.T. Thoracic cystic schwannoma: case report and review of literature. Spinal Cord Ser Cases 7, 7 (2021).

Download citation


Quick links